Harbaugh Has No Doubt Ngata Deal Gets Done
An extension for Haloti Ngata might be the most important move of the offseason in terms of freeing up salary cap space, and count Head Coach John Harbaugh as one who is confident a deal will get done.
Ngata is reportedly scheduled to make a team-leading $16 million in 2015, and a new deal could potentially make him a Raven for life* *while simultaneously clearing much-needed cash under the cap.
"He wants to be here. We want him here. It's just a matter of [Senior Vice President Of Football Administration] Pat Moriarty and [Agent] Mike McCartney coming to terms on something that Haloti feels great about and the organization feels great about," Harbaugh told Nestor Aparicio and Luke Jones of WNST at the NFL Scouting Combine yesterday.
"I'm real confident we can get that done. I really believe it will get done. I don't have any doubt in my mind it’ll get done, but it's got to get done."
While some have expressed disagreement about re-signing Ngata because he's 31 and the Ravens have viable replacements after drafting Timmy Jernigan and Brandon Williams, Harbaugh sees plenty of reason to keep the perennial Pro Bowler in purple and black. The eighth-year head coach believes great things are still to come from Ngata.
"Any contract is for what you expect. It's not for what somebody's [already] done," Harbaugh said. "You never pay backwards. You pay forward, so you've got to take that into consideration. I think we do a great job of understanding that a lot of what a guy's done kind of helps predict that in terms of who they are. You've got to make a determination."
Ngata is coming off one of his best seasons in recent memory, a strong sign that he can still make a big impact. Ngata's stat line looked a lot like a defensive back last season with two sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and seven passes defensed despite missing four games due to a suspension.
He is one the most-liked leaders in the locker room, and he has been the centerpiece of a run defense that has ranked in the top 5 in seven of his nine NFL seasons.
"Haloti's going to play great. He loves Baltimore. He loves the fans. He loves the organization," Harbaugh said.
The Ravens would like to re-sign some of their unrestricted free agents before free agency opens on March 10,* *such as wide receiver Torrey Smith, running back Justin Forsett and tight end Owen Daniels. Getting an extension done with Ngata – and even cornerback Lardarius Webb – could have a domino effect on those other signings by clearing millions of dollars in cap space.
"I believe those guys all want to be back and we want those guys back," Harbaugh said when asked about Smith, Ngata and Webb. "That should bode well and we should have a shot to get them back."
Harbaugh: Trestman Has Already Learned Offensive Language
Marc Trestman has barely been the Ravens offensive coordinator for a month, and he's already got the lingo of the offense down.
"He's worked hard. He's dug in with the other coaches. He's studied enormous amounts of tape, playbook, install tape," Harbaugh told WNST.
"He's learned the language. He's a guy – he's multi-lingual football linguist, I guess somehow. He's able to take our language and take our system and immerse himself in it so we don't have to change it for the players."
Harbaugh told media at the combine that Trestman and quarterback Joe Flacco have met a few times and the two are already getting along.
Prior to even hiring Trestman, Harbaugh made it clear that it was a requirement to keep the West Coast system so that the coaching staff and players didn't have to make another overall system change.
"That was a must," Harbaugh said. "That was something we were going to do. I like the direction of the offense. I like the West Coast system."
Ravens Must Make Plans Assuming Pitta Won't Play
There's no telling whether Dennis Pitta will play next season.
He is fully healed from his second dislocated hip injury in terms of being able live a healthy life, but he still needs to make a decision about his football career, Harbaugh told reporters at the combine.
Because his football future is unclear, ESPN's Jamison Hensley feels the Ravens have to move on with the idea that Pitta won't be available.
"At this point, the Ravens can't plan on Pitta lining up for them again," Hensley wrote. "This isn't advocating that the Ravens write off Pitta, but the team's decision makers have to prepare for the worst.
"That has to be the game plan when a player's future is uncertain 20 days before the start of free agency and 71 days before the draft. The return of Pitta has to be viewed as a bonus going forward."
With only rookie Crockett Gilmore a guarantee to return, Hensley suggests that Baltimore adds two more tight ends to the roster. He thinks the Ravens should pursue a salary-cap casualty like the 49ers' Vernon Davis. Or he says they should take Minnesota's Maxx Williams with the No. 26 overall pick "if he's the best available player."
Steve Smith Return Is 'Great News'
The Ravens wanted wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. to take a few weeks off after the season to contemplate retirement as he turns 36 in May. He apparently did, and Harbaugh announced he plans on having Smith on the roster in 2015.
"This is really great news for the Ravens, considering their situation at wide receiver," Hensley wrote.
The situation includes Torrey Smith potentially leaving via free agency, and no other clear No. 1 or No.2 receiver on the team. Smith Sr. led the team with 79 receptions and 1,065 yards in his 14th NFL season.
"Steve Smith's role could expand to mentor this upcoming season," Hensley wrote. "The Ravens are taking a hard look at wide receivers at the combine this week, and they may ask Smith to take a young promising receiver under his wing."
Oddsmakers Early 2015 NFL Win Totals
NFL rosters aren't anywhere close to being finalized with free agency and the draft still ahead, but that's not stopping Vegas from putting down early win totals for all 32 teams.
Gamblers can make bets on the OVER or UNDER on the lines set. I'm not a gambler, but what do you think? Will the Ravens go over or under the nine wins that CG Technology sports books predicts?
Here are CG's 2015 win totals for all 32 teams, per ProFootballTalk.com:
New England: 11
Green Bay: 10.5
New Orleans: 9
Kansas City: 8.5
San Diego: 8.5
San Francisco: 8.5
N.Y. Giants: 8
St. Louis: 7.5
N.Y. Jets: 6.5
Tampa Bay: 5
- NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell ran a 5.53 in the 40-yard dash … in his work clothes … in an office aisle. It was part the 11th annual #RunRichRun campaign, which benefits the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. [NFL You Tube]